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Geller, M.H. (2005). A History of Group Study and Psychodynamic Organizations. Amy L. Fraher. Free Association Books, 2004. Organ. Soc. Dyn., 5(2):317-321.

(2005). Organizational and Social Dynamics, 5(2):317-321

A History of Group Study and Psychodynamic Organizations. Amy L. Fraher. Free Association Books, 2004

Review by:
Marvin H. Geller, Ph.D.

In her book, A History of Group Study and Psychodynamic Organizations, Amy Fraher's task is twofold. Her first task is to write a history of ‘group relations’ work as it emerged at the Tavistock Institute in England and later took root in the United States through the National Training Laboratories (NTL) and the A. K Rice Institute (AKRI). This history is based extensively on interviews with many people responsible for the creation and evolution of those organizations. Her second task is to present her overarching construct of the ‘idea organization’, i.e., an organization that generates ideas rather than goods and services. Innovation is posited as the ‘life-blood’ of these organizations, while rivalry, competition, envy and inter-group conflicts are the enemies of innovation and organizational survival. Fraher presents the evolving histories of the Tavistock, NTL and AKRI, documenting the events and dynamics in their historical progress that illuminate her hypothesis about these idea organizations.

Fraher developed the idea for her book while she was a visiting scholar at the Tavistock Institute. She hoped to write about the innovative applications of psychodynamic thinking to workplace issues from the Tavistock perspective, but what she found was a field and organization in transition, neither innovative nor vibrant.

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